Affidavit No. 7202/2012

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Yousef Husam al-Din Yousef al-Shayeb, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 901081893, born on 20 April 1975, a journalist, and a resident of the Amman/Ramallah, Ramallah governorate, would like to declare the following:

At around 10:00 am on Tuesday, 31 January 2012, I received a telephone call from a person, who introduced himself as Muhammad and said he worked at the Palestinian Intelligence Agency. He told me to report to the Intelligence agency headquarters in the al-Balou’ area near to the President’s house for a “cup of coffee”. He did not state the reasons, nor did I request that he make clear why I was summoned. He only asked me to report to the Intelligence agency headquarters as soon as possible. Having ended the telephone conversation, I reported the incident to my wife, Palestinian and Jordanian officials, and editor-in-chief of the Jordanian al-Ghad newspaper, where I worked. I felt that to drink a cup of coffee would concern reports I had written and published in the Jordanian al-Ghad newspaper. Accordingly, I expected there would be measures that were more significant than a mere cup of coffee. I also reported the matter to the Chairman of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate.

At around 11:00 am, I went to the Palestinian Intelligence headquarters and asked about Muhammad. Intelligence officers, who were positioned at the gate, requested that I identify myself. I said I was Yousef al-Shayeb. I had a sense that the Intelligence officers had known that I would come. They told me that the Director of the Intelligence Agency himself wanted to see me. Muhammad was just a contact person. They admitted me to the Director of the Intelligence Agency, who introduced himself as Abu Shakir. At first, we had a general conversation. Then, Abu Shakir started to question me about a report I had published in the Jordanian al-Ghad newspaper on 30 January 2012. Entitled Charging the Palestinian Diplomatic Mission in France with Espionage, the report talked about some employees of the Mission, who exercised pressure on Palestinian students and citizens to spy on one another as well as on Palestinian, Arab and Islamic associations and organisations. Palestinian personalities in the Palestinian territory were aware of the espionage. Abu Shakir claimed that I distorted the image of Palestine and that the report might jeopardise the Palestinian national security. At the same time, Abu Shakir did not deny the fact that if such information was correct, it would pave the way to an investigation of the matter. Therefore, he said I should cooperate with him and disclose the sources of the information in the report. However, I refused to reveal the sources of information except in the presence of a lawyer, before a court if a lawsuit was filed, or if I were summoned as a witness or suspect.

The tone of the conversation between us was tense at times and moderate at others. Sometimes, Abu Shakir suggested indirectly that I would be personally harmed by law if I did not cooperate and disclose my sources. At other times, we talked in an amicable manner as if we had been friends. As such, the interrogation session ended at 12:30 pm. I looked at the time on my mobile telephone, which they had not seized from me. They did not request that I turn it off. Then, I was referred to the Interrogation Director, who introduced himself as Ghassan Abu ar Rub. He was very friendly and did not ask me to disclose the sources of my information. Instead, he drafted my statement in the form of an affidavit. He was even angry when he realised that some Intelligence officers had not allowed me to use my mobile telephone and ordered them to not do that again.

“Al-Shayeb is not detained.” He told them.

I signed on the affidavit and waited to leave until around 2:00. Meantime, I was surprised that the Intelligence officers were waiting for a decision from an agency, which they did not reveal, to release me. I was worried and called the Jordanian al-Ghad newspaper, where I worked. I also called the Jordanian Embassy as I held the Jordanian nationality. I telephoned other persons, including the Chairman of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate.  I continued to be detained until around 7:15 pm. I sat in a room near to that of the Director of Interrogation. They brought me a lunch meal and beverages. I was not subjected to any verbal abuse, torture or offence. An hour before I went out, sources in the newspaper told me that Dr. Salam Fayyad promised to release me. When I was out, the Chairman of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate was waiting for me outside the Intelligence building. He accompanied me to a sit-in demonstration on the Yasser Arafat Square in the centre of Ramallah city in protest against my detention and that of my colleague Rami Samara.

Finally, I would like to indicate that this measure violates the Palestinian Basic Law and international laws, especially in relation to the freedom of expression and freedom of the press. It caused me a grave psychological damage and I felt humiliated. Although I was not assaulted, the idea of interrogating a journalist by security officers, detaining him for eight hours, and releasing him upon intervention from the Prime Minister is unacceptable. It shows that human rights and freedom of expression are not respected in Palestine. 

This is my declaration, which I hereby sign, 2 February 2012

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: Affidavit No. 7202/2012
  • Field researcher: Hadeel Haneti
  • Affidavit Date: 2 February 2012
  • Name: Yousef Husam al-Din Yousef al-Shayeb